Sa'ar to Netanyahu: Let children of foreign workers stay

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also requested that the cabinet discuss deferring or preventing the expulsion of 400 workers' children next week.

October 4, 2010 05:02
2 minute read.
Foreign Workers' kids at a protest in Tel Aviv

foreign workers' kids 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The State of Israel can and should avoid deporting children of foreign workers currently enrolled in the Israeli school system, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said on Sunday.

“These students have to go to school with very serious feelings of uncertainty and fear hanging over them… I am convinced that the State of Israel can find the heart to decide that children studying in the school system will not be deported,” Sa’ar wrote in a request sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

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Sa’ar also said the deportation of children studying in the national school system would be “a serious mistake on many levels” and that a decision to allow them to stay would “be remembered as one of the most humane and wise decisions ever made by the State of Israel, and a decision fitting for the Jewish state.”

In his letter to Netanyahu, Sa’ar called on the prime minister to hold renewed talks on the fate of children of foreign workers enrolled in the national school system, so as to end the state of uncertainty they are living and studying in.

The minister added that he is in favor of government efforts to deal with illegal residents of Israel, but said that the way to do so is through “stopping infiltration to Israel from Sinai and ending the revolving-door policy,” a reference to the action whereby the state brings tens of thousands of legal foreign workers each year through manpower agencies while working to deport those whose legal status has expired for one reason or another.

Following a cabinet decision on August 1, hundreds of the 1,200 children of foreign workers in Israel face the possibility of deportation.

These include children who don’t face the criteria set by the cabinet, including that their parents entered Israel legally, they speak Hebrew, and are at least five-years-old and enrolled in the first grade. If they were not born in Israel, they must have come before age 13, have been in Israel for at least five years and be under the age of 18. In addition, children of parents listed as “diplomatic workers” are not eligible for permanent status.

It is still unclear how many of the said children will be deported.

Sa’ar’s sentiments were echoed Sunday by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who requested that the cabinet discuss deferring or preventing the expulsion of approximately 400 illegal migrant workers’ children next week.

“From an ethical, Jewish and humanistic standpoint we must not deport these children. The State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people bears a special responsibility to take these special concerns on these issues into account,” said Barak at Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

The deportations were set to start after the end of the High Holidays, but sources at the Interior Ministry have said that there would be no campaign directed specifically at the children or their families.

Channel 2 reported Sunday night that many of the migrant workers’ families had gone underground in anticipation of being rounded up and deported.

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